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History of the Fourth of July
Did you know New York City has the biggest fireworks display in the United States and that three U.S. presidents died on July 4?
Why is the Liberty Bell cracked?
Why is the Liberty Bell cracked?
In 1751, the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly—part of the state’s colonial government—paid around 100 pounds for a large bell to hang in its new State House (later known as Independence Hall). Cast at London’s Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the bell arrived in Philadelphia in August 1752. Because the metal was too brittle, it cracked during a test strike and had to be recast twice. The final version—made of 70 percent copper, 25 percent tin and small amounts of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold and silver—weighed around 2,080 pounds and measured 12 feet in circumference around the lip and 3 feet from lip to crown. On July 8, 1776, the bell was rung to celebrate the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. After the British invasion of Philadelphia, the bell was hidden in a church until it could be safely returned to the State House. A popular icon of the new nation and its independence, it wasn’t called the “Liberty Bell” until the 1830s, when an abolitionist group adopted it as a symbol of their own cause.
So when did the Liberty Bell get its famous crack? That’s not exactly clear. According to one of many stories, it first cracked back in 1824, during the visit of the Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette. Another story holds that it fractured later that year, while tolling to signal a fire. One of the most popular legends claims that the bell cracked during the funeral of Chief Justice John Marshall in 1835, but newspaper accounts of the funeral do not mention such an incident. Whatever the truth is, it seems the bell was certainly damaged by 1846, when (according to official city records) Philadelphia’s mayor requested that the bell be rung on George Washington’s birthday. Though attempts were made to repair an existing fracture in the bell for the occasion, and the bell reportedly tolled loud and clear at first, it subsequently cracked beyond repair and had to be taken out of service. After being moved to a pavilion near Independence Hall in 1976 (the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence), in 2003 the Liberty Bell was relocated to Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historic Park, where millions of visitors view its famous crack each year.
The Liberty Bell is one of the most important symbols of United States freedom and was created in 1751 to mark the 50 th anniversary of William Penn’s famous decision that colonists in the new world had the right to govern themselves. This was a major step on the part of colonists on the road to revolution, and the Liberty Bell can still be seen today in Pennsylvania. The Liberty Bell is found adjacent to Independence Hall, another of the best historical attraction in Philadelphia.
The history of the Liberty Bell is an interesting part of the history of the United States. After its first casting in 1751, the bell was delivered to the Pennsylvania State House and hung and displayed from scaffolding. The history of the Liberty Bell goes on to reflect that the first time the bell was rung; it cracked, resulting in the famous Liberty Bell crack. The Liberty Bell crack was remedied by recasting the Liberty Bell numerous times; however the Liberty Bell crack remains a favorite aspect of the bell’s history.
The history of the Liberty Bell also includes times of turmoil within the United States, particularly during the American Revolutionary War. Rather than allowing British troops to seize the Liberty Bell in PA and possibly melt it down for ammunition, revolutionary soldiers moved the Philadelphia Liberty Bell north to Allentown and hidden beneath the floor boards of a church. The Philadelphia Liberty Bell stayed hidden under the church until 1778 when the last of the British troops were finally driven out. Although the bell was moved back to its original spot in Philadelphia in 1778, the basement of the church in Allentown where the bell stayed hidden for those years is now a memorial museum, known as the Liberty Bell Museum. Visitors can check out a replica of the original bell in the museum.
The inscription on the Liberty Bell in PA reads, «Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto the inhabitants thereof», and comes from the book of Leviticus in the Christian bible. Today, visitors can see the Liberty Bell in PA for free. Simply stop by the Visitor Center and pick up a free ticket. You can also check out some supplemental historical information at the Visitor’s Center before or after viewing the Liberty Bell in PA. Hours for the Visitor Center and pavilion are daily from 9am until 5pm. You can also see the bell from Chestnut and 6 th Avenue in downtown Philadelphia, so this is a good way to at least catch a glimpse of it if you’ve missed the pavilion hours. Both the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are located just a few blocks from many of the most popular Philadelphia hotels and make an excellent stop along walking tours of the historical district of Philadelphia. The Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art are also located downtown in the same vicinity and can be great additions to suggested itineraries for Philadelphia.
Have You Ever Wondered.
- Why is the Liberty Bell cracked?
- What message is inscribed on the Liberty Bell?
- How heavy is the Liberty Bell?
Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Mrs. Baker’s from SC. Mrs. Baker’s Wonders, “How the Liberty Bell got cracked?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Mrs. Baker’s!
In America, there are many symbols that people equate with the concept of freedom . One of the most famous is the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.
Cast in London, England, in 1752, the Liberty Bell was made for the Pennsylvania State House. It was ordered by the Pennsylvania Assembly to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn’s 1701 Charter of Privileges.
This charter gave Pennsylvania citizens precious freedoms such as the right to take part in making laws and choose their own religion.
Unfortunately, a small crack appeared in the bell shortly after it arrived in America. The bell was melted down and recast twice in 1753 by two local craftsmen, John Pass and John Stow.
Although more copper was added during each recasting, the bell eventually developed a thin crack again. By 1846, the thin crack had begun to affect the sound of the bell.
Although the bell was repaired again in 1846 just in time for it to ring for a George Washington birthday celebration, the crack remains, and the bell has not been rung since. No one knows why the crack originally appeared.
The Liberty Bell weighs more than a ton (approximately 2,080 pounds). It is made of 70 percent copper , 25 percent tin, and small amounts of lead, zinc, arsenic, silver, and gold.
The Liberty Bell is a powerful symbol of the idea of freedom . It was rung at the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776.
It also features an inscription that conveys a message of liberty : “Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof.» This is a passage from Leviticus in the Bible.
Today, the Liberty Bell hangs at the Liberty Bell Pavilion on Market Street in Philadelphia. Thousands of people visit every year to see this unique American icon of freedom .
It still hangs on what experts believe is its original yoke made from American elm.
We’d like to thank:
Matthew , shayla , Krithika , Wendy , and Terrance
for contributing questions about today’s Wonder topic!